It's important to keep your immune system topped up every winter, but it's never been more important to stay healthy than it is right now. Staying a healthy weight is a big part of this: as we know, the virus doing the rounds is more likely to have serious effects when it affects individuals that are overweight or obese.
With that in mind, we've got a winter superfood that can help fight against the harmful effects of obesity, including heart disease, blood disease, and chronic inflammation. Say hello to butternut squash.
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Butternut squash is a tasty winter squash that goes incredibly well in hearty fare like roasts, traybakes, stews... anywhere you might use other root vegetables, like carrots, beetroot or potatoes, butternut squash can be a great substitution or addition.
Butternut squash is rich in carotenoids, which you can tell due to its orange, carrot-like color. Carotenoids carry loads of beneficial properties, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions, according to the journal Mediators of Inflammation (opens in new tab). Inflammation, when cells keep dividing and growing, is often found in overweight or obese individuals, and can lead to various different forms of cancer.
By reducing the effects of inflammation, the carotenoids in butternut squash can help keep these cancers at bay.
Butternut squash is also rich in vitamins C, E, and A – in fact, Consumer Reports (opens in new tab) found you get 127 percent of the daily value for vitamin A in a 1-cup serving of butternut squash – and a large helping of potassium. Both these micronutrients can help lower your blood pressure, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.
The end result? This unassuming, oddly-shaped winter squash is an anti-obesity superfood, helping battle against the bad effects of cardiovascular disease, inflammation and oxidation.
Combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise for weight loss, butternut squash can help you slim down and live a longer, healthier life. If you're just getting started on your weight loss journey, we've got plenty of resources on hand – you can try walking to lose weight, for example, or our four-week shape up challenge.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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